In our time there is so much technology that it is astounding, we come to depend a great deal on it. I once took a survival class from Jim Phillips, he emphasized that everything made by man comes with an unwritten guarantee, to fail when it is needed the most. We all commonly refer to this occurance as Murphy’s Law. There is always something out there lurking to knock us down or stall us in our progress. There is always an opposition that we battle against.
I recall a time in my younger days when I was out with some friends in some remote mountains, we were scouting for deer. Due to rainy slick conditions we were unable to drive to where we planned. We wound up hiking in to take a look, with the intention of getting back to the truck to set up camp for the night. We spent too much time up there, conditions worsened, winds kicked up, temperatures dropped to near freezing. Ultimately going back to the truck was not an option. Since we were poorly dressed for the conditions a fire was needed. We really struggled, trying time and time again to get a fire going. We had all started fires many times, but never in these conditions. We got down to only one more shot at getting the fire going, we prepared tinder and kindling like never before. At last a fire was going, we sheltered it and ourselves and made it through the night and the snowfall that came.
In this story we very nearly didn’t make it, we got down to the last chance to start the fire. I learned from this experience, to be properly clothed, to learn to start a fire in most any condition or to shelter so as not to need fire. How did I do it? Read on.
With Practice comes improved ability, and that increases confidence, which in turn bolsters attitude.
I used to speed hike in the mountains near my home. I made a practice of hiking up the mountain and at the turn around point, I would start a little fire, many times right on the trail. Nothing big, just enough to get a flame going. Then I put the fire out and headed back. Over time there were all kinds of conditions I built fires in, rain, snow, wind, good weather and bad, dry materials and damp. I found that if I persisted I was able to learn to deal with quite a variety of conditions successfully.
One year our family took an extended vacation where we traveled all through the Western U.S. and Canada. We tent camped through the whole trip. I was able to get better and better at setting up camp and taking it down quickly and efficiently. I would fold up the tent in a certain way, so that when I unrolled it later I knew where the door would be. Organization in how things were packed also evolved during the trip.
Everything we do can be done better with practice.
How is the best way to practice all these things?
I have a rule when camping, we use no matches or lighters for fire starting. As a result everyone learns to use a Magnesium fire starter, or flint and steel, or piston. If a fire can be started with these methods, its not difficult to use conventional methods. By practicing we learn when things are easy and not critical, rather than being out in life or death conditions trying to learn.
One interesting thing I’m doing this year is at our family reunion. We are in charge of it so I thought to make it more interesting, lets set up a scenerio where we have all had to evacuate to the mountains. We are going to practice using 72 hour kits, Bug out Bags, Survival kits, medical kits, food storage etc. I am lining up training sessions for all these areas. We will do some games and things like that just to keep things light and fun. The goal is to get everyone thinking about what they have and what they need realistically. So by practice at the reunion, everyone can improve on their readiness, both in gear and supplies and also in skills. I will do an evaluation in a couple of months to let all of you know how it went.
One final benefit of practice is we are able to weed out equipment that we find does not work well, now is the best time to find that out and make corrections.
So practice, practice, practice.
Until next time, Perry Peacock, Simplifying Survival